Above: Gottheimer and Malliotakis near the Lincoln Tunnel today, announcing new action to combat the MTA’s Congestion Tax plan.
NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY — Today, March 15, 2023, Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11) announced the leadership for a new, bipartisan Congressional Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus to combat New York’s proposed Congestion Tax. The Co-Chairs of the new bipartisan Congressional Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus will be Gottheimer, Malliotakis, and Mike Lawler (NY-17).
The Congestion Tax would cost Jersey and New York drivers up to $23 dollars a day — more than $5,000 a year — on top of the $17-a-day tolls for bridges and tunnels, to drive to work or visit New York City south of 60th Street. No revenue from the Congestion Tax goes to support NJ Transit, PATH, or New Jersey in any way, unlike the shared Port Authority tolls.
Gottheimer and Malliotakis today outlined three priorities and the start of an action plan for the bipartisan Congressional Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus:
Environment: Studying the true impact the Congestion Tax will have on the environment, especially in the outer boroughs and suburbs.
Economic Impact: Protecting drivers and communities from the economic impact of the Congestion Tax.
Oversight: Conduct oversight of the MTA and audit the billions in federal assistance the MTA has already received.
Gottheimer and Malliotakis also announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation — the Make Transportation Authorities Accountable and Transparent Act — requiring the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a full audit of the MTA to see how it has spent billions in federal assistance over the past five years.
Gottheimer also called on MTA leadership to testify under oath before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to give Congress a full accounting of the billions of federal dollars they received during COVID and annually.
“We are here today to formally join forces — with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Hudson — to fight back against the Congestion Tax — and get to the bottom of the MTA’s legendary mismanagement. The new bipartisan Congressional Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus will stand up for hard-working New Jersey and New York drivers who will soon face the MTA’s $23-dollar-a-day cash grabbing Congestion Tax,”said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus. “It’s time MTA leadership came before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and gave Congress a full accounting, under oath, of the billions of federal dollars they received during COVID — not to mention the billions more they get every year. We can’t keep pouring dollars into an MTA black hole. There needs to be appropriate federal oversight and increased accountability for the MTA and their questionable uses of the billions in federal funds they’ve received. As that old Wendy’s ad said, where’s the beef? Where did all that money go?”
“Studies have shown that Congestion Pricing would shift vehicle traffic from higher-income, more urbanized areas to lower-income, more vulnerable communities and in our case from Manhattan’s city center to the outer boroughs,” said Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11), Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus. “The fact that the MTA and the Federal Highway Administration are jamming through a flawed Environmental Assessment that failed to include Staten Island in its street-level analysis not only makes our government vulnerable to a lawsuit but further shows how politicized the program’s implementation has become. We’re announcing this caucus today to show officials from the city, state, and federal level that if they irresponsibly proceed with this scheme, there’s a unified, bipartisan effort in Congress working to stop it.”
“I’m proud to join Congressman Gottheimer and Congresswoman Malliotakis to form the Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus,” said Congressman Mike Lawler (NY-17), Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus. “Governor Hochul and the MTA’s congestion pricing scheme is a regressive tax on commuters to New York City who have no reliable mass transit options. Before seeking more revenue, the MTA should work to get its house in order – especially on the runaway spending front. Any transit agency that spends more money on consultants than the actual boring of a tunnel has its priorities totally out of whack. I am hopeful that both the Governor and the MTA will see reason here and work with our bipartisan group to prevent this ridiculous scheme from ever going into effect.”
“I am happy to be part of this important bipartisan, bistate effort to push back against New York’s Congestion Pricing Program. This plan is deeply flawed, unfair, and represents yet another money-grab on New Jersey commuters’ wallets. We are drawing the line and sending a message that it is wrong for any level of government to pile more tolls and fees on the backs of commuters in the midst of an unprecedented affordability crisis in our region,” said Congressman Tom Kean, Jr. (NJ-7), member of the bipartisan Congressional Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus.
Below: Gottheimer and Malliotakis outlining the start of an action plan for the bipartisan Congressional Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus.
Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Good morning. Although I’d rather be back in Jersey, it’s good to be with my colleague here in New York City — home of the absurd Congestion Tax plan.
By now, we know the facts: the MTA has been so woefully mismanaged that they are desperately looking anywhere for cash to fill the gigantic hole they dug for themselves. Their target? Hardworking commuters from New Jersey and New York. They plan to charge them a $23-a-day tax just to drive here south of 60th street. That’s more than $5,000-a-year — all of it going to the MTA. Not a cent will go back to the PATH train or NJ Transit to actually help our state in any way. The best part: the MTA admits it will cause more congestion and lead to more pollution.
It could be the MTA’s new slogan: riding us will give you higher taxes, more congestion, and plumes of smog. Sounds like a winner for a transit system that is running $2.5 billion dollar deficits — even after they received $15 billion in federal COVID emergency relief on top of their annual billion dollars in federal support. Studies show they lost $500 million to fare skippers last year. The MTA is such a mismanaged agency riddled with corruption that a judge described it as an “orgy of overtime fraud.”
That’s why we are here today — to formally join forces — with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Hudson — to fight back against the Congestion Tax — and get to the bottom of the MTA’s legendary mismanagement. The new bipartisan Congressional Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus will stand up for hard-working New Jersey and New York drivers who will soon face the MTA’s $23-dollar-a-day cash grabbing Congestion Tax.
With the creation of our new caucus, we’re outlining three clear priorities — the start of our new action plan — that will be key to our fight against the Congestion Tax.
First, we need to make sure that all of the effects the Congestion Tax will have on the environment are studied and made public. We already know from MTA’s own reporting that the Congestion Tax will send more trucks into northern New Jersey by the GW Bridge and into the outer boroughs to areas just outside of the tolling zone — hurting lower income families. The Bronx alone could face 700 more trucks every day contributing to massive pollution. The MTA admitted that children in Bergen County near I-95 and the George Washington Bridge and in the Bronx will face increased air pollutants and toxins.
The MTA has asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to fast track their approvals. That would be a huge mistake. We have all asked that DOT demand more extensive studies on the environmental impact of the MTA’s plan. We also need to understand the impact on the Port Authority and their capital projects, like the new bus station, the airports, and the aging bridges, tunnels, and ports.
Second, we need to protect hardworking Jersey and New York families from having their pocketbooks drained and look out for small businesses here in the City who are already struggling. That’s why there’s been such an outcry of opposition — from taxies, to Uber drivers to small businesses.
Older folks, people with disabilities, and those visiting doctors and hospitals here have no choice but to drive into the City because they are receiving lifesaving care at Beth Israel or NYU. And let me be clear, every scenario the MTA released will whack drivers with a new tax.
Third and finally, there needs to be appropriate federal oversight and increased accountability for the MTA and their questionable uses of the billions in federal funds they’ve received. As that old Wendy’s ad said, where’s the beef? Where did all that money go?
This is an extremely corrupt and mismanaged agency that we’re dealing with. There are countless indictments and investigations into bid rigging and fraud — for soliciting and accepting bribes from contractors. I already mentioned the phenomenal fare skipping. It’s time MTA leadership came before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and gave Congress a full accounting, under oath, of the billions of federal dollars they received during COVID — not to mention the billions more they get every year.
And to help with that oversight — as Co-Chairs of the Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus — Congresswoman Malliotakis and I are, together, introducing bipartisan legislation that will require the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Transportation to conduct a full audit of the MTA. We can’t keep pouring dollars into an MTA black hole.
Every nickel of the new Congestion Tax imposed on hard-working Jersey families, from nurses to taxi drivers to hospital patients, will go to New York.
I’ve noticed that Chairman Janno Lieber and the MTA have started to lash out as the facts in their own reports have come to light — as people have started to really dig into the MTA’s mismanagement and into the harsh reality that their congestion pricing plan will cause more traffic and more pollution.
So, I urge Mr. Lieber and the MTA to call it quits on their cash-grabbing Congestion Tax Plan. Delaying it, as they have, won’t make the facts any rosier. And it won’t stop the bleeding at the MTA. Only fixing the root of the problems will do that. Nicole, Mike Lawler, and I, as Co-Chairs of the Caucus, are happy to sit down with you.
And I’m continuing to encourage everyone who opposes the Congestion Tax to let your voices be heard — contact the MTA, call your local, state, and federal elected officials. The fight is just beginning, and our new bipartisan Congressional Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus is ready.
When we work together, New Jersey and New York are a tough combination to beat. Look at how well we’ve cooperated for more than a hundred years at the Port Authority.
Thank you again and may God bless you and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
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